Chaos Reading discussion

Celebrity (& other) Book Lists > Dystopian Books

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marc (last edited Feb 02, 2017 10:01AM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 637 comments Mod
I came across this article "So You Want to Read Dystopian Fiction: Here's Where to Start".

It mentions some of the usual suspects: 1984, Brave New World, and The Handmaid's Tale, as well as a couple I'd never heard of (The Children of Men and Super Sad True Love Story).

I suspect Chaos members could come up with a much better list, so what novels would you recommend for dystopian fiction?

message 3: by Whitney (last edited Feb 02, 2017 07:45PM) (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
CD wrote: "The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
The Stand by Stephen King..."

Hmmm, I think I'd file most of these under "post-apocalyptic" rather than "dystopian". Dystopian implies a somewhat settled society. And in on the beach, I recall they actually had a fairly civil society going.

Children of Men could be considered both to some extent. A repressive government existing after what is essentially a 'quiet' apocalypse. The movie was better than the book in many ways. If you haven't seen it, this is one scene that has garnered much praise, note that it's all done in a single tacking shot. The real action starts around 1:30. The scene on YouTube that follows this one is the other great tracking shot scene.

I'll stop critiquing other posts now and see what I can come up with.

message 4: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Okay, some of my faves.
Riddley Walker, one of my faves in any genre, this one. Although it may also be arguably more post-apocalyptic.
Never Let Me Go
Lots of books by P.K. Dick.

message 5: by CD (new)

CD  | 121 comments Post-apocalyptic is dystopian. It is a subset, but the world is disordered and generally bad or unpleasant. That's a dystopia.

message 6: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Uh oh. I can see this turing into another genre definition argument, my bad.

I think where I would draw the (often blurry) line is in asking what the main theme of the book is. If it's "survival in a post apocalyptic world", then its a post-apocalyptic. If it's "dealing with a horrible entrenched government" than it's dystopian. But, yes, if you define dystopia as "a really sucky place to be", then almost all post-apocalyptic fiction is dystopian. But, then, by that definition you could call a book about a small cult or even just a bad marriage dystopian.

message 7: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 637 comments Mod
Every apocalypse seems to lead to a dystopia, no? I mean, is there a post-apocalypse tale that describes a utopia or a better place than what preceded? I'm not saying there are absolutely no such stories, but I can't name any.

I guess the main difference is that some dystopias are set off by catastrophe (mass illness, war, environmental destruction, etc.) wiping out law/order/structure/resources and some dystopias are purposefully created by authoritarian control. I'm glad you steered discussion this way Whitney because the exchange between you and CD points to what we ultimately find dystopic:
either too much control or not enough.

I do think the "place" in question is the society or world the characters are stuck in and not just a personal dystopia (like a bad marriage).

message 8: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
I remember one, where there was a utopian, "low technology by design" society many many years after a nuclear war, but I can't remember the name. They wake an engineer up out of deep freeze to activate the earth protective system against an incoming asteroid. But it turns out the asteroid is really a ship with the politicians who started the whole mess and who were zipping around at near light speed so they could come back to a non-radioactive earth. It has a happy ending in that the politicians are destroyed.

And I still maintain that in On the Beach they actually had a very civil society in Australia, although I remember the movie better than the book.

But, yes, dystopian societies are certainly the most likely soon after an apocalypse, I think that's why they get lumped together so much. I think the problem in dystopian novels in almost always a cruel and repressive system. When you say "not enough control", I would think that's more likely an indication of a post-apocalyptic novel where there's no one to reign in the forces of repression and cruelty (such as The Walking Dead), but those forces do not represent a stable government.

message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I would add Far North

message 10: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Oh, duh, The Fifth Season!

message 11: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 637 comments Mod
I was thinking about the Stephen King books that I've read that fall into the dystopian category--The Long Walk and The Running Man were the first that came to mind. Then I realized just how many dystopian books there are based around a forced competition where participants are the poor/criminals and the contest functions as a control through fear and entertainment (The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, etc.).

Would something like Tron be considered dystopian?

message 12: by Jiří (new)

Jiří (myfyriwr) | 4 comments I'll add my two bits to the discussion. I think that Dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are different, but I agree that most post-apocalyptic societies tend to be rather dystopian. As I see it, you can have post-apocalyptic tale without dystopia (The Time Machine), and you can have dystopian without apocalypse (1984).

My list of books/stories with Dystopian undertones:
Fahrenheit 451 (Can't believe nobody mentioned it yet)
Animal Farm
Lord of the Flies
Ready Player One
V for Vendetta
Cloud Atlas

back to top